Temperature is assumed to be the principal regulatory signal that determines the end of dormancy and resumption of growth. Indirect evidence that stem temperature interferes with phenology comes from the common orchard practice of painting stems to protect them from disease. This work studies the effects of application of white paint to the stems of persian walnut (Juglans regia) trees on winter stem temperature, carbohydrate content, and spring phenology. Painting bark resulted in the delay of budbreak by several days, higher nonstructural carbohydrate (NSC) concentrations in the bark and wood of painted extension shoots and changes in the spatial gradients of NSC during budbreak. The demands of maintenance respiration exceeded mobilization from local carbon pools during bud development suggesting a potential role of carbohydrate transport during spring budbreak in persian walnut. Painting provides an exciting perspective for mitigating effects of milder winter in orchards. The effect of reducing diurnal and spatial temperature variability limits early budbreak, NSC depletion associated with intense maintenance respiration, freeze–thaw cycles and frost dehardening.